Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Fingers of the Man Cow-Pig

“Sister, we have a question.”

I was slouching in my metal folding chair in the tiny room at the back of the shed, my mind drifting as the five men on the Kamano-Kafe translation team waved their arms in a deafening shouting match in a language I didn’t know, impaling sticky notes and thumping Bibles onto the table until the computers shook. We were checking the second draft of Leviticus, deep into the many repetitive verses dealing with sheep’s entrails and fat covering the kidneys and the lobe of the liver and the specific rituals and rules of sin offerings and guilt offerings and peace offerings.

There are some concepts of that everyone expects to be difficult to translate. Guilt, for example. Consecrated. But more often than not, at least for the book of Leviticus, it was things like the distinction between skillet and frying pan for the grain offerings that was causing more challenges (not having the words in Kamano-Kafe).

And now they all were staring at me.

“Okay,” I said, “What’s that?”

“When the man cow-pig’s body is dumped outside the camp, do they throw away his legs or his fingers?”

A few man cow-pigs I saw when visiting a cattle station in the Markham Valley

(In traditional Kamano-Kafe society, they only interact with one large mammal: the pig. Thus, “pig” is also the word for “large mammal.” So, when they have to translate terms for other large mammals in the Bible, they tag on “pig” at the end, to indicate this animal fits in the same class as a pig; hence, they have horse-pigs and cow-pigs and goat-pigs and sheep-pigs.)

“What do you mean by fingers?” I had a pretty good idea of what he was referring to, but it’s always wise to confirm we’re on the same page.

Nathan stood his arm on the table, curling his fingers into the shape of a cow’s hoof. “This part, the bottom of the leg.”

“Okay, well...they dump both his legs and his fingers. It’s the whole thing that gets burned.”

They nodded and looked at each other. Loud arguing erupted for a few more minutes, as they continued to gesture emphatically. Obviously there were now two sides to this discussion.

Suddenly it all went silent, and Nathan turned to me. “Are you sure?”

Some mama cow-pigs and pikinini (baby) cow-pigs
Oh dear. “Yes I’m sure. See, right here where it says legs?” I read the passage aloud again. “In English, that refers to the entire thing, including the fingers.” I pointed down my arm, then my leg. “The whole thing, shoulder to finger. Hip to finger.”

I sat back down as the discussion flowed around me in very exited Kamano-Kafe. Was I explaining this wrong? What was the problem?

James leaned across the table. “Please, look it up in your translator notes. Are you sure they throw out the fingers of the man cow-pig?” The others nodded vigorously.

I clicked through the translator help commentary on my computer program, but for some reason, the authors had neglected to discuss at length if it was the legs or the fingers from the bull that were burned...compared to the lengthy discussion of atonement a few verses earlier, which had been a piece of cake for us.

I turned back. “Umm, well, it’s definitely the WHOLE THING. The only things not burned are those kept for sacrifice by the priest. Everything else, hip, shoulder, leg, fingers, skin....all of it gets burned. Can we say that in good Kamano-Kafe? Do we need to reword it?”

“No, no, we can say that.” The guys chatted a bit more, trying out a few different phrases. James typed a few notes into the computer.

“Okay, Sister,” Nathan folded his arms on the table, “We’ve said the whole leg including the fingers..... but now we need to know, do they throw out the arms of the man cow-pig too?”

You never know what discussions might come up when dealing with the complexities of translation!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Happy Birthday PNG!

Happy, happy birthday, Papua New Guinea (PNG)! Today, September 16th, is PNG's 40th anniversary of independence!

Check out this awesome video showcasing some of the beautiful people and scenery of this young nation!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

An Australian Holiday from A to Zed

  A is for my accent which slides and changes based on who I’m with. So far, I’ve been pegged as an Australian, New Zealander, American, Canadian, Brit, and even a generic “European!”

B is for tasty treats we can’t get in Papua New Guinea (PNG) like blueberries, sliced ham, peaches and grapes!

C is for clean! The stores were clean! The roads were clean! The sidewalks were clean! Even the train station platform was clean!

I even got to improve my in-hand dressage skills.
D is for dressage, my favourite equestrian sport, and the focus of ten days of my trip, where I helped out at an upper level barn and was able to take lessons, watch clinics, and be in a lovely horsey environment!

E i is for etiquette on a train. Rule 1: Don’t acknowledge the existance of any other person. Ever. Rule 2: Always stare at your smart phone. If you accidentally look up, remember Rule 1.

F is for my being oblivious to Western-style flirting after not being exposed to it for years...

G is for eating successfully gluten-free eating during my entire time (quite a feat while traveling)!

H is for hay bales. We don’t use hay bales to feed our horses here in PNG and so getting to hang out at the horse barn, with their gorgeous fences, beautiful water troughs, elegant stalls, perfect arenas, awesome shavings pile, and of course, their shed of hay bales, made me very happy!

I is for the icy cold weather in Melbourne (well, compared to my home state of Minnesota, it was nothing, but compared to my life in PNG, I was shivering under 5 layers!)

J is for the jolly and beautiful countryside of Australia that is a lovely change from PNG jungle!

See the baby in the pouch on the left?
K is, of course, for the many kangaroos (and don’t forget the wombats and wallabies) I saw roaming around the various parts of Victoria. The babies were pretty cute!

is for the scary left turns that happen when you’re driving on the left (or right) hand side of the road. I can’t remember anymore and so midway through the turn I’m panicking WHERE DO I END UP??? WHERE AM I?? AHH!

M is for the many medical appointments which finally shed some light on my several years of chronic fatigue—there are multiple underlying viruses and parasites in my system that need to be eradicated. Yay for treatment plans!

is for traveling at night which we don’t do in PNG...and so it was very strange!

O is for being overlooked when I’m wandering through town. For once, I’m not a celebrity!

P  is for visiting cool paintings at the Melbourne Art Museum (even more fun, their exhibit was “The Horse”)

Q is for how quickly everything happens in Australia! After living at a much, much slower place, I was rather taken aback by the speed at which everyone lived and spoke and shopped and travelled and planned...

R is for restaurants; we don’t have many restaurants in PNG, and we get to visit them even more rarely, so it was fun to go out to eat with a friends a couple times and enjoy Greek and Argentinean food!

S is for “sticky beak” and all the other fun Aussie expressions!  (And no, it does not mean a giant bird beak covered in honey...but to take a look out of curiosity.)

T is for all the travel challenges I experienced this time around. Ah well, I made it, and flights and departures and customs can’t all go smoothly every single time!

U is for the apparent unconcern people have for security issues (which are constantly in the back of our minds in PNG)—for example, no extra locks on doors, no bars on windows, no alarm systems in houses and no security guards checking your bilum (PNG string bag) as you enter and exit stores!

Melbourne from the sky!
V is for the cool view of Melbourne from the tallest lookout in the Southern Hemisphere!

W is for the wide aisles in the grocery store.  I know this sounds weird, but aisles in PNG are usually really narrow and crowded, and so this made me really happy...

X is for both eXpensive and ineXpensive...which is what prices look like when you keep trying to filter too many currency exchange rates in your head....

Y is for when you look like you ought to belong, but you don’t, the global traveler’s conundrum.

Z is for the zillion lovely new friends I made!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Pineapple Skills

Sometimes, I really like channeling food bloggers. They make scrumptious meals with TONS of step-by-step pictures (in case we don't know what a bowl looks like) and can get you enthusiastic about the most mundane of things like...oh, I don't know, brussel sprouts (which my housemate actually cooked the other day and I had them for the first time... and they weren't so bad! Why do they always get such a bad rap, like the epitome of disgusting vegetables? But I digress.)

On today's food blogging episode, I will enlighten you to a skill set every tropical-living missionary needs to learn...chopping the pineapple (later, I'll walk you through The Mango). I actually earned lots of "cool foreign points" when I sliced a pineapple like this in Australia for my hosts.

The Pineapple
Step 1: Get the pineapple...this may include wading through a spikey garden to wrestle it off the plant...(Signs of ripeness vary between kind of pineapples, but generally you want a nice pineapple-y smell and golden shades in the skin.)

Step 2: Remove the pineapple's crown by twisting it off the fruit. Proceed to plant the crown in the garden for more pineapples.

Step 3: Slice off both ends of the pineapple so that it sits upright on your cutting board.

Step 4: Now here's where it gets interesting: Slice off a chunk of the skin. If it's a Highlands pineapple, then the eyes aren't very deep and you can easily take the entire skin off with one fell swoop--like you see in this first photo. (Proceed slicing the skin off all the way around the pineapple.)

But, if it's a Lowlands pineapple, then the eyes are deep, and even after you have taken all the skin off, it still looks something like this:

Step 5: In order to cut out all the eyes, you'll need to make diagonal wedge-shaped slices from top to bottom of the pineapple, following the spiral of the eyes.

Step 6: You're almost there! Cut your pineapple into delicious slices (aren't they pretty?) and enjoy!